Perhaps it’s all in the delivery. Tyrrell Hatton is the best of the modern players at losing his cool on course with Belgium’s Thomas Pieters running a close second.
Thanks to his profile, Rory McIlroy attracts the most attention on the rare occasion his emotions boil over (like when he snapped his wedge last week in California) and while it’s rare, Tiger Woods is not immune to blowing a gasket on course.
For as long as golf has been played, golfers have been driven to distraction by the vagaries of the game.
McIlroy revealed a little of the nature of the needling golf gives after Thursday’s meltdown at Sherwood Country Club.
“I missed so many shots to the right,” he said afterwards, “(that) if that wedge shot on 18 had missed 20 yards left, I still would have had that club in my bag, I wouldn't have snapped it.”
How quintessentially golf. It wasn’t the missing of the shot that caused the problem, but where the shot missed.
The shove into the ground and subsequent treading on the shaft to create two pieces where only one had existed before was merely the consequence of a full day of the torture of constantly missing to the right.
RIGHT: Tyrrell Hatton is one of the modern game's great exponents of the temper tantrum. PHOTO: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images.
“It was just one shot too many to the right,” he explained. “Even if that thing had missed 6 feet to the right, that club was probably getting broken.”
Almost every golfer, irrespective of handicap or mental make-up, can at least empathise, if not sympathise, with pros in these moments.
Rare is the regular player without a club or bag abuse incident somewhere in the closet.
For many it is a one-time occurrence, the shame and embarrassment caused by such a complete loss of control over something so unimportant enough to cure them forever.
Maybe it’s time to re-think my “Rory McIlroy completes career Grand Slam at next month’s Masters” pick. pic.twitter.com/CzgXml8pvo— Luke Elvy (@Luke_Elvy) October 23, 2020
But for those at the top level, whose search for perfection is constant, the intensity is somewhat higher.
The trick for them is in how they manage it. McIlroy has always been one to manage a laugh at his own expense, as he did last week.
Hatton is the standout of the modern era, however. On YouTube, there are entire videos devoted to his reactions to bad shots.
"Almost every golfer, irrespective of handicap or mental make-up, can at least empathise, if not sympathise, with pros in these moments."
A personal favourite is the one where he demands the caddie acknowledge the poor quality of an effort at Bay Hill last year.
“Have you ever seen a worse golf shot?” he asks coolly as his ball sails way to the right of target.
Obviously thinking discretion to be the better part of valour the caddie remains silent, but Hatton won’t be appeased so easily.
“No, answer the question,” he demands of the bag man who is forced to reluctantly agree that no, he has not seen a worse golf shot.
“That’s terrible,” Hatton agrees.
Thomas Pieters is less verbal with his rage though no less intense as proved by the elegant snapping of his 4-iron – around his neck – at the 2018 BMW PGA.
In one fluid move he manages to miss the long iron to the right and hold the finish for a moment before letting go of the grip with his right hand, grabbing the clubhead and calmly snapping it in two. That takes some strength!
While temper tantrums are not to be endorsed and managing one’s emotions is one of the keys to playing good golf McIlroy, Hatton and Pieters are certainly not alone in their angst.
At every level of the game players always have, and always will, lose it.
It’s as certain as death, taxes and missed short putts.